Little Say On Wind Farm

Windfarm (fiel shot).

By Jeremy Sollars

 A development application for the proposed

MacIntyre Wind Farm crossing the Goondiwindi and Southern Downs Regional Council

areas was lodged with the Queensland Government late last week by Spanish-owned

global renewable energy developer Acciona.

But residents and the councils will not have

a formal opportunity to scrutinise the application in detail with there being no legislative

requirement for it to be publicly advertised,

and it will not be referred to the councils for

comment.

Wind farm proposals in Queensland are

solely assessed by the State Government

through its power State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA), an arm of the Department of

State Development and Queensland Treasury.

SARA also reports to the office of the

Queensland Coordinator-General, a likewie

SARA is only required to publicly notify its

final decision on wind farms.

Residents can however complete a brief

online survey to voice their views directly to

Acciona, which has already appointed a senior project management team and a range of

consultants despite not having any formal approval for the wind farm.

The company plans to develop the MacIntyre Wind Farm across 40,000 of private

land in the Cement Mills and Pikedale districts

it has leased from local landholders, with 120

turbines.

Most of the wind farm would be located in

the Goondiwindi council area with portions

extending into the SDRC area at Pikedale and

Goldfields, with the Durikai State Forest near

Karara forming a ‘buffer zone’.

The Queensland Government’s own renewable energy company – CleanCo – will develop

18 turbines of its own just south of Durikai

State Forest, understood to be included in the

120 overall figure.

Former Deputy Premier and Treasurer – and

as of last weekend former MP for South Brisbane – Jackie Trad announced on March 26 this

year that a CleanCo component involving 18

wind turbines would form part of the Acciona

project.

A new transmission line to take electricity

from the wind farm to the Millmerran power

station would run through the Karara and Leyburn districts.

Acciona said in early 2020 a series of public

consultation meetings would be held with affected communities but attributed a cessation

of consultation to COVID-19. As of this week

no public meetings had been announced by

Acciona.

For their part both Southern Downs Mayor

Vic Pennisi and Goondiwindi Mayor Lawrence

Springborg have said they expect Acciona to

consult with their councils about any aspects

of the wind farm which could affect council

interests, including roadworks and traffic disruption during the construction phase. Neither has taken an active stance against the Acciona proposal.

The wind turbines proposed would have

a maximum wing-tip height of 285 metres

and heavy vehicle movements to enable their

transport to the site are likely to cause significant highway traffic disruption in the local area over a period of several months. Most

wind turbine components are manufactured

overseas.

The re-elected Palaszczuk ALP government

has a target of achieving 50 per cent of all of

Queensland’s energy needs from renewables

by 2030, including solar and wind farms.

Former State Minister for Energy Dr Anthony Lynham – who quit politics before the 2020

Queensland election – said earlier this year the

MacIntyre Wind Farm would mean “jobs and

business opportunities across the Southern

Downs and Darling Downs”.

“As one of the largest onshore wind farms

in the southern hemisphere, the MacIntyre

Precinct will have far reaching and long lasting

social and economic benefits locally, and for

the whole state,” Dr Lynham said.

“The local spend on the Downs is forecast

to be more than $500 million during construction.

“That’s jobs and business flowing into the

south west from later this year when early

works start.”

Dr Lynham said the 1026 MW wind farm

project was expected to be progressively connected to the statewide energy grid from 2022,

with 64 km of new powerlines connecting the

wind farm to Queensland’s electricity network

at Millmerran.

“State-owned Powerlink has already commenced working on the connection of the

project to the grid, which on its own will support up to 240 jobs,” Dr Lynham said.

Acciona Australia Energy Managing Director Brett Wickham has said Acciona is “excited

to be working with the (State Government’s)

CleanCo to deliver one of the largest onshore

wind farms in the southern hemisphere”.

“In addition to generating up to 400 jobs

over its lifetime, a Community Enhancement

Program will be established to deliver added

value to the local community,” Mr Wickham

said earlier in 2020.

“The project is scheduled to begin construction in mid-2021, with a gradual start-up

in phases to ensure connection to the grid with

full technical guarantees for the state’s electricity system.

“The entire MacIntyre complex will be operational in 2024.”

Your say?

Acciona has called on local businesses and residents located near the MacIntyre Wind Farm

Precinct to have their say on the project by taking part in what a spokesman said is “a short,

online survey”.

“The survey (https://www.surveymonkey.

com/r/MacIntyre) forms part of the work that

independent organisation, EMM Consulting,

is conducting for a Social Impact Analysis (SIA)

of the project,” the spokesman said this week.

“Acciona is committed to understanding

what the local community thinks of the project.

“We know a project like MacIntyre Windfarm must deliver long-term benefits to local

businesses and residents.

“To plan for this properly we need to understand what is important to people in the area

so we can try to maximise the project benefits

while minimising any impacts.

“We have a number of things in place to

ensure we capture these local views, including

the Social Impact Analysis, the Community

Engagement Committee, and regular supplier

and community briefings.”

“The MacIntyre SIA aims to:

· describe the existing social conditions and

demographic profile of the local communities

·identify and assess the extent and nature of

potential social risks

· evaluate the significance of the social impacts and benefits arising from the project

· provide mitigation recommendations to

reduce the negative social impacts and enhancement measures for significant positive

impacts

· develop a monitoring and management

framework.

“As well as the online survey, EMM Consulting is conducting a range of in-depth interviews and workshops with local stakeholders.”

No further details of the interviews and

workshops had been released by time of printing of the Free Times this week.

Developer of the MacIntyre Wind Farm Acciona last month announced a group of local

stakeholders who will serve on its first Community Engagement Committee (CEC).

Acciona’s Brett Wickham thanked those

who nominated for the CEC and said the committee members represented an excellent

cross-section of the communities interested in

the project.

“Community committees are designed to

foster genuine discussion and collaboration

and are always an invaluable source of advice

on ways a project should be progressed within

an existing local community,” he said.

“We were impressed with the calibre of

nominations for our first MacIntyre Wind

Farm CEC and look forward to working with

committee members to achieve really strong

local outcomes from the project.

“The local stakeholders appointed to

the MacIntyre Wind Farm CEC, who are

representative of the three local council

areas with interest in the project, are –

· David Bartlett (Gore), Traprock Group

· Trudie Bartlett (Harlaxton), Regional Development Australia

· Michelle Conkas (Severnlea), Granite Belt

Sustainable Action Network

· Lloyd Hilton (Karara), local community volunteer

· Susie Kelly (Goondiwindi), Goondiwindi

Shire Council

· Graham Parker (Stanthorpe), Stanthorpe

and Granite Belt Chamber of Commerce

· Joel Richters (Goondiwindi), Care Goondiwindi

· Jo Sheppard (Toowoomba), University

Southern Queensland

Joel Richters was the nominated ALP candidate for the state seat of Southern Downs in

the 2020 Queensland election.

Mr Wickham said the CEC term of membership for Community Representatives is two

years.

“The CEC will hold its first meeting in midOctober 2020 at which the CEC’s independent

chairperson will be announced,” he said.

“One of the first items of business for the

CEC will be to provide input into MacIntyre

Precinct Social Impact Assessment (SIA).

“The SIA, which kicked off in the middle

of September, is being conducted by leading

Australian planning and environmental consultancy firm EMM.

“The purpose of the SIA is to assist ACCIONA to understand the social impacts associated with the project and to provide the foundation for decisions regarding the development

and review of community programs and initiatives to be delivered through the Projects’

Community Enhancement Program.

“The SIA, which incorporates a mix of

face-to-face consultation, field studies and

in- depth research, will run over the coming

months, with a final report to be presented in

Q1 2021.”

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